Sunday, March 15, 2015

The WrestleMania Match We Will Never Get. Spider-Man Vs Spider-Man

As Marvel gets ready to start shooting on Captain America: Civil War, most of us comic book geeks are wondering if the movies is going to have Black Panther take over the role that our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man had in the comics, as it's been rumored. That was before Marvel and Sony came to an agreement that will allow Spidey to cross over into the Marvel cinematic universe and have Marvel put out a new Spider-Man movie, with Sony distributing the film as well as having final say on matters, which could be disastrous. We all say The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I know, I did say it was the best Spider-Man movie ever made at the time I first saw it. However, I am allowed to change my mind.

Now, with each Dylan O'Brien rumor of his impending casting as the new Wallcrawler, I thought I would take an objective look at both Spider-Man franchises and see which one was truly better. Who played Peter Parker better? Who was a more comic book accurate Spider-Man? Could Andrew Garfield's hair actually fit under that mask? And yes, I know there are already tons of comparison articles out there. But here's another anyway.

I took a few days to watch all five Spider-Man movies. I started at the beginning with the first Sam Rami movie and ended with the Amazing Spider-Man 2. I tried to pay more attention to the acting, the costumes, the overall feel of the movie I was watching before I came up with a decision. I also broke down what I was watching for in categories which you will see as you read along.

I also want to stress that this is just MY opinion and my opinion only. I have been a massive fan of the character since I could read and I still remain a huge fan to this day. Spider-Man means so much to me and always will. So, I guess those are my only qualifications toward judging between the two.

Let's Get Started:

Which Origin Story Was Closer To The Comic?

When watching both movies, I realized the origins of both Spider-Men was similar, but different. Both were bitten by super spiders, although I don't think either were radioactive like in the comics. But that's where the similarities end.

In Sam Rami's Spider-Man, the origin story from the comics is followed almost faithfully. Peter Parker is bitten by the spider on a class trip, gains spider powers, tries to use the powers to gain money by getting into a wrestling match and gets gypped by the owner of the promotion. Owner gets robbed, Peter lets the robber get away when he could have stopped him, robber later shoots Uncle Ben leaving Peter to go after the killer and then finding out it was the same robber and he could have stopped him and prevented Uncle Ben's death does he realize he is to use his powers for the good of humanity.

In Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker is trying to find out information about his father. He finds that his dad used to work with Dr. Curtis Connors, who works at Oscorp. Parker sneaks into Oscorp and accidentally walks into a room with a bunch of super enhanced spiders, one of which stows away in Parker's shirt and bites him on the neck as he's talking to Gwen Stacey. Parker later gets into an argument with his Uncle Ben, storms out of the house leaving Uncle Ben to follow after him. Parker then goes to buy himself some chocolate milk and is short a couple of pennies The clerk refuses to let him slide a couple cents. As Parker is leaving, he witnesses the store getting robbed and does nothing to stop it, even accepting the milk from the robber. As the robber is fleeing the scene and running into people, he drops his gun and Uncle Ben is there to try and stop the robber and gets shot in the process. Parker goes after the killer later on and is attacking every one who bore a resemblance to the killer, but never finds him. He only goes after the Lizard after he realizes that it's exsistance is partially his fault and he wants to go and stop it.

In Rami's Spider-Man, Parker becomes Spider-Man to make the world a better place. In Webb's Amazing Spider-Man, Peter becomes Spider-Man only to find the killer of his Uncle Ben. Not exactly heroic. In my opinion, This round goes to Rami's Spider-Man

Spider-Man 1,  Amazing Spider-Man 0

Who Was The Better Peter Parker?

In the comics, Peter was the ultimate nerd. Ignored by women, beaten up by jocks, made fun of by the cooler kids. Peter was always searching for acceptance and when he became Spider-Man, his confidence grew. We see this in Tobey McGuire's portrayal of the character. Tobey's Peter Parker is a nerd and is always looked down on by those around him except Mary Jane, Harry Osborne and Aunt May. Tobey's Peter Parker was Charlie Brown and that is what he was in the comics. Nothing ever goes right for him.

My main problem with McGuire's Parker is that while he was nerdy, he was also goofy, border lining on stupid. His goofy smile while "Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head"plays in the background in Spider-Man 2, his dancing in Spider-Man 3 just made my skin crawl. Then there was his crying. I mean, he cried wayyyyy too much. Parker was never this goofy or whiny in the comics.

Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker was more hipster than nerdy. Sure he was smart, bullied and barely had any friends, but this Parker had some balls to him. He stood up to Flash Thompson, rode his cool skateboard in the hallways and flirted with Gwen Stacey. This was not your father's Peter Parker. Hell, he wasn't even the Ultimate version of Peter Parker. He was almost too cool to be an outcast, brooding at times as well. He even talked back to adults, like when he offered to send Captain Stacey a link to the video of himself that went viral.  Don't get me wrong, I liked Garfield's performance, but if we are going by comic book standards, Garfield's Parker would have been perfect as Peter Parker, college student as he had a lot more confidence by this point.

Even with the crying and stupid dancing, McGuire wins this round.

Spider-Man 2, Amazing Spider-Man 0

Who Was The Better Spider-Man?

After watching the movies the past few days, I noticed that both actors portrayed Spider-Man differently. Tobey McGuire's Spider-Man was not the Spider-Man I wanted. Although his Spider-Man had the costume right, his portrayal missed the mark. He, in my opinion, played Spider-Man almost exactly as he played Peter Parker. There was a twinge of geek in there and some Charlie Brown in Spidey. If the Black Cat had been around, I bet she would have blew him off. Another thing that cheesed me about McGuire was his habit of removing his mask all the time. What the heck?? Spider-Man barely had his mask removed in the comics. If the reasoning behind this was to get Tobey's reactions then that is a piss poor excuse. There are other ways to express Spider-Man's reactions to what was going on around him than to see McGuire's facial expressions.

Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man was pretty much on the money, with the exception of the outfit, which really did not bother me as much as I thought. Garfield as Spider-Man was bold, smart, and had something that was really missing from McGuire's liners. That to me was something I loved about Spider-Man. No matter how dire the situation was, Spidey had a string of one liners ready to zing at his opponent during his battles. He threw them at the Lizard and called Electro "Sparkles", He was even sarcastic with the two bit thug he stopped from stealing a car in the first movie. To me, the fact that Spider-Man can make light of heavy situations is one of his trademarks and for McGuire's Spider-Man to be void of that is a major mark against his Spider-Man. Oh, and Garfield had web shooters, not organic webs (Thank you so much James Cameron for that idea.)

This round goes to our favorite hipster.

Spider-Man 2, Amazing Spider-Man 1

Overall Tone Of The Movie

I remember when I first saw the trailer for Spider-Man and feeling so excited. I had been waiting for Spider-Man to be made into a film and I was finally getting it. When I saw the movie I walked out feeling satisfied with what I got. Sam Rami was obviously a fan of the character because when I watched this movie I felt like I was reading an issue of Spider-Man from the 1960's. I could see John Romita Sr. Drawing these characters. Spider-Man looked almost exactly like he did in the comics, with the exception of the spider on his back and lack of web shooters (Thanks again know what, forget it. Just forget it.). I still feel like this to this day when I pop in the movie, as well as Spider-Man 2 in the Blue Ray player. I could watch both movies over and over again and never get tired of them.

Plus, Rami had dead on portrayals of characters like Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, Norman Osborne, Aunt May, Uncle Ben, Harry Osborne and Otto Octavius. His only failure was Mary Jane. No offense to Kirsten Dunst, but she wasn't glamorous enough to pull off Mary Jane. Plus, she became a self absorbed, selfish woman as the series went on. It got to a point where I almost didn't want Spider-Man to save her.

We won't even go into Venom.

In The Amazing Spider-Man, it seems to me like Marc Webb used the Ultimate Spider-Man and Batman Begins as his template. I don't mind that all too much. The essence of Spider-Man was in this film. But it wasn't like he jumped out of the comics like the Rami's Spidey did. They altered the costume a bit in the first one and then he was more closer to the Spider-Man we know in the second film. Webb's first film was a lot darker than it probably should have been. Spider-Man is not a dark, brooding character. It seems like Webb tried to bring out Spider-Man's inner Batman at times and that didn't work.

Webb didn't bring a lot of Spider-Man's secondary characters into his movies. Yes, we had Uncle Ben and Aunt May. We had Gwen Stacy and Captain Stacey as well as Flash Thompson. We got Harry Osborne in the second movie as well as Norman, but Norman was wasted in a five minute bit with Harry. We did get Felicity Hardy, who would become the Black Cat, a version of the Rhino, The Gentleman, Dr. Kafka (even if he was a woman in the comics) and Alister Smythe but we never saw these characters develop as there was too many characters in the second film. You would have thought that Sony would have learned from Spider-Man 3.

I genuinely enjoyed the first film and still do. I think it's on par with Rami's first Spider-Man. I may have it above that movie just slightly only because I liked Garfield as Spider-Man so much. But, we are trying to determine which movie felt like what a Spider-Man movie should feel like and as much as I liked Garfield, this movie doesn't have that tone.

Spider-Man 3, Amazing Spider-Man 1

Wow. I was pretty shocked with myself after I watched all the films. I have been on board with Andrew Garfield being a better Spider-Man. While I do believe that he is a better Spider-Man, McGuire's Parker is more on point and Rami's movies were more Spider-Man-ish, if that makes any sense. I do think if the Amazing Spider-Man would have been a better movie, Webb's series would have come out on top and we wouldn't be getting yet another reboot of Spider-Man in 2017.

So, as I eat my words, I will proclaim that Sam Rami's first two Spider-Man movies are the standard bearers for all Spider-Man movies to be judged by. Has the perfect Spider-Man movie been made? I do feel that Spider-Man 2 is as close to one as you can get. Maybe Marvel will make that perfect Spider-Man movie. It depends on who they cast to play Spider-Man Dylan O'Brien is rumored to be the lead for this role, but Logan Lerman is another top choice) and direct (Drew Goddard is being considered to write and direct) the movie. But with Marvel involved, I feel a lot better about the films chances to be Spectacular and maybe even Ultimate.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I Think This May Be Bigger Than A Womp Rat

Ever since I was 6 years old, Luke Skywalker has been my favorite Star Wars character. Whenever I would get Star Wars toys as a kid, somewhere in the lot there would be a Luke Skywalker I would gravitate to and play with above all the others. I wish I still had them all, but I lost them in the great war of 1982 when my sister and I were at war and destroyed each others toys. She threw out all my Star Wars stuff and I played skydiving with her Barbies from our 6th floor window.

Ever since I decided to restart my Star Wars collecting, I made sure I focused on Luke Skywalker, picking up as many pieces of him as possible. From puzzles to action figures to cups to calendars, anything that has Luke on it, I usually picked up. But I can't say I'm doing it all by myself.

My buddy, George, gave me some late Christmas presents and one of the items fits right into my Skywalker collection.

Recently, Hasbro released some Star Wars Titan figures in their Star Wars: Rebels line. I've never seen the show on Disney XD, so I don't know if it's any good. To me, if it has nothing to do with my beloved characters from Episodes III, IV and V, I have no interest. I gave the Prequel characters a chance and wasn't crazy about them. Also, I'm not sure why Luke was released in this line, unless he will make an appearance on the show or will at some point. All I care about is I get a new Luke Skywalker in my collection.

As with all Titan figures, they come in a box with a cellophane front and some art underneath. In this case, we get a Stormtrooper with the classic Star Wars lettering under the Stormtrooper, which is enough to make me squeal like a 10 year old.

I love the back of the box as it a has a great action shot of the final battle between Luke and Darth Vader in Return Of The Jedi. The picture captures Vader down for the count with Luke about to deliver that final blow that chops Vader's hand off. If I was Luke, I would have been like "A hand for a hand, eh Daddy"? That is probably why I will never be a Jedi. Much anger in this one. Then again, there is no such thing as a Jedi Knight, no matter what those cos players tell you at conventions.

I had wanted to keep the box for display purposes, especially since I was digging that picture on the back so much. Unfortunately, Hasbro did not make getting the figure out all that easily. I would have hoped I could have slide the figure out, but no. It was tied down to a piece of cardboard that was glued to the box. What the heck?? I had to tear apart the box to get the figure out so I could cut the elastic like strings off to set him free. After I was done, there was no box. just one long piece of cardboard. It looked like a piece of the skin off an orange if you peel it right.

Here is Luke out of the package. Right off the bat, I like that he's wearing his Jedi outfit from Return. He also looks enough like Mark Hamill for this figure to work out well.

I did say he looked enough like Hamill, not totally like him. There's enough there where you can look at the figure and say, "OK. I see it." Only thing I might have done was darken his hair just a little. Mark Hamill has dark blonde hair. Not very light blonde that the companies have been putting on him since the 70's. I never got that.

The only accessory that came with the figure was his green lightsaber, which I'm glad we got. Of the two lightsabers Luke had, the green by far is my favorite. Not sure why since blue is my favorite color. I thought, and still do, that the green made Luke more of a bad ass than the blue one did. The hilt on this lightsaber is a little bit bent, so I will have to figure out a way to straighten it out since I'm pretty sure Luke had a straight hilt and not the curve on the end that I have seen on some lightsabers.

There is barely any articulation to this figure. Luke's head turns slightly from left to right, the arms do a full 360 rotation at the shoulder and the legs go up in front and that's it. That's not a problem for me. My problem is if we weren't going to get wrist articulation, why is Luke's hand out stretched instead of at his size? It's not like we can pose this figure, so I fail to see the reasoning for the palms out theory with this figure.

Maybe Luke is asking Vader for some long overdue child support? No wonder he chopped Vaders hand off. The cheap Sith Lord.

The paint on the back of the figure is as good as the front is. Hasbro did a bang up job on the paint application. I did not see any splotches or messed up paint on any part of the figure.

That's as much posing as your going to get out of this figure, but I really don't care. It's a new Luke Skywalker figure that has been added to my collection and I am very glad to have it. Once I am able to display my collection, I figure (Pun intended, heh heh) this will have a prominent spot next to my other larger Skywalker figures.

Like most of the free world, I am looking forward to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I usually avoid seeing a newer release with crowds, but I may break that rule just to see this movie. I have been on such a Star Wars kick lately. I've watched New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi all weekend get my Star Wars mojo flowing. The 2 best things about The Force Awakens? We get the original cast back and we are sure to get more Skywalker collectables for me to pick up. That's a win win...for me at least.